Interim review committee to discuss several water measures this week
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado lawmakers may weigh in on a dispute between the ski industry and the U.S. Forest Service with a resolution opposing the federal agency’s efforts to protect publicly owned water rights originating on national forest lands.
The proposed resolution, under review by an interim legislative committee, would oppose a new Forest Service water rights clause in ski area special use permits that would bar resorts from transferring certain water rights to third parties.
The Forest Service clause also requires ski areas to transfer certain water rights to the United States or to subsequent special permit use holders if a permit is terminated.
Colorado Water Trust breaks new ground with first direct-flow lease
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Even after wet winters, the Upper Colorado River can run perilously low in late summer and fall due to numerous diversions, and in this drought year, high demand threatens the state’s namesake river even more.
New state measure is bad public policy and could hurt non-commercial boating and fishing interests, says the director of CU’s Natural Resources Law Center
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Some non-commercial kayakers, rafters and anglers around Colorado are rallying to change a proposed state law on river access, claiming the measure benefits commercial operations at the expense of private river users.
“I just think as a matter of public policy it’s inappropriate,” said Squillace, who testified about the bill during a Feb. 8 hearing. “You’re dividing people into two classes. Those who can pay (for a commercial raft trip) and those who can’t or prefer not to … The implication of the law is that everybody else lacks the same rights that the commercial outfits have, he said.
Other non-commercial boaters support the measure, saying it’s a step in the right direction for the greater “right-to-float” movement.
House Bill 1188 would protect commercial river running operations from trespassing charges on Colorado waterways with historic commercial use. The bill was passed by the Colorado House Judiciary Committee this week and could be headed for a floor vote next week. Colorado water law gives boaters and anglers the right to float down streams and rivers, but if they touch bottom or the riverbank, they are technically trespassing.
A potential bill being discussed by state lawmakers could help ease conflicts between commercial rafting companies and fishing guides and private landowners along the state’s rivers, but as written, the measure does nothing to address similar concerns voiced by private boaters and anglers.
SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the bills being discussed as the State Legislature ramps for its session could ease conflicts between licensed rafting companies and fishing guides and private landowners along Colorado Rivers.
Summit County’s State Rep. Christine Scanlan has been mentioned as a co-sponsor of the bill.
Under Colorado Water law, boaters have the right to float along a stream, but if they touch the bottom of the river or the banks of stream where it passed through private land, they are technically trespassing.
Under that law, some private land owners have sought to hinder river access. In some cases, those conflicts have threatened the existence of long-established businesses by preventing them from operating on certain rivers, said owner Christian “Campy” Campton, owner of Frisco-based Kodi Rafting.
He characterized the bill as a job-protection measure aimed at protecting the state’s economically important rafting industry, worth about $140 million in 2008.